Those we care about in the LGBTQ+ community — friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors — must confront stigma and prejudice based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while also dealing with the societal bias against mental health conditions.
Families, friends, and allies play a critical role and can take actions to be supportive. A few suggestions:
Respect Their Identity
We can all take simple steps to respect the identity of LGBTQ+ people by affirming how they choose to live and using their chosen gender pronouns. Affirming LGBTQ+ people’s identities can actually save lives; a study recently indicated that using transgender youths’ chosen names may lower suicide risk.
Learn About the Early Signs of Mental Illness
Mental illness is complicated and difficult to understand, but knowledge and insight helps us to be supportive. Review the warning signs of mental illness.
Create and Teach Awareness
Be supportive publicly, by addressing anti-LGBTQ+ language and actions when you hear or see them.
Support organizations and policies benefiting the LGBTQ+ community.
Support Them in Accessing Mental Health Resources
Share the It Gets Better Project, a campaign to share hopeful, inspiring stories.
Find out more from The Trevor Project, which provides a national, 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth: 866-488-7386.
Suggest attending a local NAMI support group, and/or attend one yourself. Find your local NAMI California affiliate here.
Listen and Be Compassionate
As always, be compassionate of the struggles of others and offer to listen and help.
Do you have insights or a story to share about how support you have given or received? Or are you a member of the LBGTQ+ community with a story about your mental health recovery to share?